Lisa MacNeil

Local government boards convene to discuss school hardening

On Monday, May 21, 2018, the Hernando County School Board met with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.  The special Interlocal Governmental Meeting’s purpose was to bring the two boards together with the primary focus of finding funds to comply with new school security mandates, which are described in Senate Bill (SB) 7026.  The school district estimates the cost of compliance to begin at $22-million, and a state grant up to $720,375 is available to the county.

School Board discusses how to secure funding to improve school safety

Following the Marjory-Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida, officials passed legislation requiring counties to harden school security and make schools safer.  Specific details of what is to be done “remains in the shade,” according to School Board Chairman Mark Johnson,  since security strategies are the focus.  The board elected to hold an “in-the-shade meeting,” where they will discuss the specific items and costs in order to increase school safety, expected to start at $22-million.

Development plans for Milk-A-Way Farms property in Brooksville

At the regular Brooksville City Council meeting on May 7, 2018, the council voted 3-2 to approve amendments to the future land use map, and elements of the city’s Comprehensive Plan regarding a 440 acre property to be zoned Planned Development Project (PDP), designated as the Milk-A-Way Farms Mixed Use Development District (MFMUDD).

Funding for Bayport Pier, kayak pull-out and observation deck projects approved

At the May 8, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve funding from the Quality Of Life fund to replace the Bayport Pier, fix the Pine Island Observation Deck and construct a service road for a kayak pull-out area two miles from the headspring, where Flohana and Boating in Florida conduct commercial kayak-rental businesses.


County Fire/EMS funding mechanisms discussed at workshop

A recent surprise shortfall in the county’s budget was the impetus for the workshop that was held on May 1, 2018. The board voted unanimously to end the Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU)* for the fire department, while keeping the Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU).  EMS will be funded by money borrowed from other internal funds and the exploration of a half-cent sales tax to bolster the General Fund will take place in another meeting on May 22, 2018.

County considers a trap-neuter-vaccinate-return program to control stray cat population

At the April 24, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting,  Hernando County Animal Services Manager James Terry proposed a “Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return (TNVR)” program for homeless and “community cats” in Hernando County.  The program is designed to control the population growth of cats, which will ultimately cuts costs for veterinary care of cats taken to shelters and reduce cases of euthanasia.  The BOCC voted unanimously to move forward with the plan, placing it on future agendas to consider ordinance changes.


Concession License Agreement With Flohana, LLC, for Kayak Pickup Improperly Signed

On August 22, 2017, Parks and Recreation Manager Harry Johnson sought approval for a concession contract for Guest Services Inc., known, and doing business as Boating in Florida.  At that time, Johnson did not mention that an existing contract already allowed Flohana, LLC to pick up kayaks at Rogers Park. Flohana’s existing contract was not voted on or signed by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and expires on September 30, 2018.  A county-wide memo was issued by Attorney Garth Coller to immediately prohibit the practice going forward.


County Commissioners mull their options in removing Nicholson from office

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson was absent from the April 24, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regular meeting.  He was arrested on April 19, 2018 on counts relating to owning, maintaining or operating an establishment of prostitution and “purchasing the services of any person engaged in prostitution.”  Nicholson has not yet given a statement, and has not resigned.

FDOT to Maintain Roundabout Landscaping

At the April 10, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, Hernando County  Engineer Scott Herring advised the board that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has accelerated construction of the roundabout at US Hwy 98 and Citrus Way (CR 491) due to the accident history at that location. FDOT came to the Department of Public Works with a proposal to include landscaping as part of the construction, with the understanding that Hernando County be in charge of maintenance.